Police and arson experts are investigating fires at a Catholic Church in Massachusetts, and believe a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the church, numerous sources reported Monday.
The device extinguished on its own, but not before charring the church’s door and door jam, melting the interior of Sacred Heart Church in Weymouth between Sunday night and Monday morning. CJ Doyle, the executive director of Catholic Action League Massachusetts, said the incident was “clearly an appalling act of arson,” according to WHDH.
Weymouth Fire is conducting a joint investigation with the Weymouth Police and Fire Marshal for a possible arson to the Sacred Heart Church located at 72 Washington Street.
The incident likely occurred sometime between 11:00pm Sunday (8/2/20) and 8:00am Monday (8/3/20). pic.twitter.com/bTOKD2ewc6
— Weymouth Fire Department (@WEYMOUTHFIRE) August 3, 2020
“This is very disturbing,” he said. “These are hate crimes targeting a house of worship. any type of vandalism or destruction is a hate crime in Massachusetts going back to 1990. These ought to be prosecuted as such.”
The incident follows several attacks against Catholic Churches and statues across the country, including multiple in Massachusetts. A Virgin Mary statue at a parish in Dorchester was burned in July.
“This is the sixth time this year that a Catholic church or Catholic institution in the Commonwealth has been the target of arson or vandalism,” Doyle said in a statement according to the Boston Herald. “There have now been more than 20 such incidents in the Bay State since 2016.”
A statue of the Virgin Mary was beheaded in Chattanooga, Tenn. days after the Dorchester incident, prompting a condemnation of the “series” of attacks by Republican Tennessee Congressman Chuck Fleischmann, who said it was “heartbreaking to see so many incidents of hate directed at religion and the church in recent days,” in a statement to the Daily Caller. (RELATED: US Catholics Targeted In Several Separate Incidents Ranging From Vandalism To Attempted Murder)
The vandalism, arson, and other attacks on churches, which included one man in Florida allegedly setting fire to a church while parishioners were inside, was also addressed by President Donald Trump’s campaign in a statement to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“The rise in violence against houses of worship, religious symbols, and sacred spaces is quickly becoming an epidemic across the country led by radical leftists hell-bent on destroying the very moral fabric of our nation,”
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to call the Arson Hotline at at 1-800-682-9229. All calls are confidential.